One: Focus on adding fresh foods full of FIBER!
Dietary fiber is important and studies show that the higher the fiber content in your pet’s diet, the better their physical health, mental health, and overall well-being. Remember, dark leafy greens are king for both us and our canine and feline friends. By feeding your pet a side of minced up fresh vegetables or even an apple or cucumber as a snack, you are taking steps to create a healthy gut and improve your pet’s health long term.
If you continue to offer your pet fresh food, their taste buds will warm up to more of the fresh food options. Trying more neutral or appealing fruits and vegetables, such as apples, carrots or berries at first can be a good way as these have natural and healthy fruit sugars which can be more appealing.
As time goes on you can mix up more types of vegetables in their foods by using a food processor (we love our Cuisinart®) in order to get them even more benefits from leafy greens. This is the equivalent to hiding extra veggies in your spaghetti sauce or adding shredded cauliflower to your mac & cheese for your non-furry family members to get them to eat their veggies too!
What if your dog or cat doesn't enjoy the fresh food?
Here are a few tips:
For dogs: Try a light coating of peanut or almond butter. This would be the same as adding peanut butter to fresh apple slices for children. Just remember that nut butters are high in fats (which dogs need to limit) so make sure it is not too heavy of a serving.
For Cats: Try leaving some toys around the house stuffed with catnip or offer them an area where they can chew on fresh wheat grass. You’d be surprised, but cats really like to chew on vegetation. In addition, you can add organic beet pulp to their food as it can be a great addition to their diet and cats tend to like the more earthy vegetables.
You can read more about cats and fiber in this article  on the benefits of feeding fiber sources such as cellulose (plant fiber) and beet pulp to your feline friend.
Two: Reduce Stress for Your Pup
Dogs are sensitive creatures and pick up a lot of information, sights, sounds and smells from their environment. It’s important to make sure the environment your pup is living in is calm and without too much stress. In addition, dogs are sensitive and can pick up on our stress even if we overlook it in ourselves.
When dogs feel stress, it can influence their microbiome and gut health as their bodies produce compounds which can cause anything from internal gut inflammation, to leaky gut, to higher than normal levels of cortisol. These are all factors that affect digestion and can even lead to premature aging.
Here are a couple ways to reduce stress for your pawed pal:
Tip 1: Try playing calming music in the background when you’re at home or while you are out if your pets are home alone. It has been found that dogs actually really like Reggae and there are even playlists in various streaming services created that contain dog-friendly Reggae mixes. For puppies, there are playlists that play heartbeats and other soothing sounds.
Tip 2: Try natural remedies such as Bach Flower Remedies  or Valerian Root or even Chamomile tea. These remedies contain natural (non-drug) compounds which help calm your dog and can reduce stress. In the wild it’s common for animals to chew on herbs such as Chamomile which acts like a natural calming sedative.
Tip 3: Make sure your pup is getting a healthy dose of prebiotics and probiotics in their diet. Prebiotics are natural and there are not bad side effects. Prebiotics work by feeding the microbes in their tummies and can literally change the way they feel or think, as the stomach has more serotonin receptors than the brain. The sentiment here is that if the good bacteria microbes in your pup’s gut are healthier, your pup will feel happier as well as be able to combat stress more easily.
We recommend our 3-in-1 probiotic, prebiotic and digestive enzyme synbiotic product, Restore M3® as it contains multiple strains of probiotics in addition to prebiotics which help regulate and increase the effectiveness of the probiotics (think of prebiotics as the fertilizer for the probiotics in your garden). You can learn more about our product in our FAQ on our Learn  page.
Three: Schedule Specific Time to play!
Aside from daily walks, dogs and cats also need play time with their human companions. Creating special time to play with your pawed pal can be a rewarding activity for both you and your pet. Petting companion animals releases dopamine in the human brain so playtime is another way to connect with your pet. This type of bonding between you and your pet will allow you to build a greater level of connection and trust.
If you have a newly adopted or rescued pup, perhaps they never learned how to play, as many dogs in rescues were neglected from a young age. For younger puppies or kittens, avid playtime allows them the ability to learn how to control and use their bodies, giving them more time to develop agility and athleticism which will carry them well into later life.
You can use this focused playtime to improve bonding, build trust and allow a great outlet for an energy release for dogs with extra energy or those who have been at home while you were away. Here are some signs you can look for to see if your dog or cat could benefit from some extra play time:
Excessive sleeping or napping
Digging in the yard or chewing on furniture
Excessive barking or meowing
Clinginess/following you around everywhere
Poor digestion, despite a good diet and appetite
Expressions of boredom such as sighing or sleeping with their back turned towards you
Nervous habits such as licking or “corn cobbing” on toys or their bed
It’s interesting to note that sometimes the anxiety levels of pets can be linked to destructive behavior. Have you ever had a dog or cat that destroys furniture, clothing or other objects? A lot of this can be linked to a lack of stimulation or even diet.
In fact, one of the owners of Ruff & Purr had a foster dog who was rescued from a situation where their original owner left for 14+ hours, as they worked in the medical field. This dog was very sweet but SO destructive. She found that after providing this foster dog both mental and physical stimulation in the form of play, all of the described activity ceased to exist. In addition, the foster dog’s separation anxiety was reduced to nothing after only a few weeks of working together.
Games you play can range from more mental games such as puzzles to more physical games like tug of war or even games like tag, where you chase your dog and then they chase you. This can be especially fun if you have more than one person. If you live in a household with multiple people, you can play a fun game of hide and seek with your dog too. This game is especially great as your dog needs to use their sense of smell and hearing to find you.
This article  from DVM 360 on Environmental enrichment for dogs and cats includes some very helpful tips for dog and cat owners and how to vary their stimulation inside the home. Some of these tips include:
Providing a kids’ wading pool for dogs to play outside
Creating a special digging area for your dog in the yard, or even making a special sectioned off sandpit
Signing your pup up for swimming lessons, fly ball, agility classes or other canine activities or join a pack walk group
Dividing portions of their meal throughout your home to see if they can find them
Placing their feeding bowl in different locations throughout your home on different days
Purchasing mobile toys that roll and jerk to stimulate their natural hunting abilities
Try some of these and let us know in the comment section how it goes with your pet!
 Feline colonic microbes and fatty acid transport: Effects of feeding cellulose, beet pulp and pectin/gum arabic fibers